chapter  7
25 Pages

The Other Time: Use of the Victorian Past in William Plomer’s Double Lives

WithJason Finch

William Plomer's Double Lives is subtitled An Autobiography, but it starts during the Middle Ages and ends fourteen years before it was written, with its author embarking for England, his London literary career still ahead of him. Its concern the lives of Plomer's parents and grandparents in Victorian England and South Africa. The study of temporal otherness brings individual identity into a field of study which has overwhelmingly tended to concern itself with cultural and group identity. Particular barriers or boundaries in history might be especially interesting in developing an understanding of temporal otherness. In the space of time between the 1920s and the 1960s the Victorian era stopped being threatening and gradually became something viewed with fondness in England. Plomer's contemporary Pevsner as both advocate of Modern Movement architecture and head of the Victorian Society, occupied the same boundary. In the same period, sexual hypocrisy came to be seen as the defining characteristic of the Victorians.